Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight prospects Sodiq Yusuff and Arnold Allen will square off this weekend (Sat., April 10, 2021) at UFC Vegas 23 inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Yusuff is one of those up-and-comers who stands out even amongst his talented Featherweight peers. The 27-year-old has started off his UFC career in style, winning four straight en route to a position at No. 11 in the rankings. Allen, also 27 years of age, is a single position ahead of the Nigerian, the result of an impressive seven-fight win streak. Both men seem destined to contend at a high-level in the near to immediate future, which means that victory here could send one athlete straight into the title mix.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Andre Fili (UFC 246), Gabriel Benitez (UFC 241), Sheymon Moraes (UFC on ESPN 2). Mike Davis (DWTNCS 2018)
Key Losses: Luis Gomez (Titan FC 47)
Keys to Victory: It’s a scary thing to see a young fighter with such clear athletic gifts and punching power compete with the composure of a veteran. Yusuff is slick, comfortable under fire, and constantly searching to put his opponent down for the count.
One of the more interesting things about Yusuff’s rise is that it has not been flawless. He’s lost rounds to both Moraes and Fili, as well as taking some very serious shots from Benitez. Despite his calm, Yusuff is a touch hittable, but thus far, he’s managed to consistently land enough power shots to sway the momentum — and scorecards — back to his favor.
Allen is perhaps the most committed tactician he’s faced, a fighter who will happily steal two rounds and the victory without ever engaging in a firefight. To avoid getting poked at by the jab, I’d like to see Yusuff ripping the calf kick early. There’s no better way to disrupt the jab of a fellow Orthodox fighter, and Allen will be forced to close the distance if his leg is getting chewed up.
In addition, Yusuff would be wise to mix it up with takedowns. Grinding along the cage would be unnecessary, but if Yusuff can time an explosive shot, a minute or two of top position could decide the round, putting further pressure on Allen to take chances.
Key Wins: Gilbert Melendez (UFC 239), Nik Lentz (UFC Fight Night 166), Makwan Amirkhani (UFC Fight Night 107), Mads Burnell (UFC Fight Night 130)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Allen is a smart and well-rounded fighter. He’s perhaps Tristar’s best active representative of the infamous “Tristar jab,” which Allen pairs well with his kicks to maintain distance rigorously. Earlier in his career, Allen was a far more stereotypically aggressive club-and-sub fighter, and every once in a while, he’ll show those skills.
Mostly though, he’s as disciplined as they come.
Allen’s strategy here is clear, and it’s the same strategy that has carried him to all of his recent victories. If “Almighty” can dictate range with his jab and stay away from his opponent’s big swings, he’s very likely to land the better shots across 15 minutes and have his hand raised.
Again, both Fili and Moraes won rounds on their feet. If Allen is able to establish his range tools and keep that fight in that realm, he can very likely make Yusuff look far more average.
The winner should receive a step up next.
Both of these up-and-comers enter this match up on solid win streak, proving themselves among the best of the next generation of Featherweights. Continuing such a streak opposite a ranked opponent should help set up a high-profile battle with someone inside the Top 10, ideally an established opponent with name value. Those fights are difficult to come by — once highly ranked, fighters are loathe to fight down — but a win should net the victor such a bout.
Alternatively, neither man is likely to lose much ground since they’re ranked within a position of one another. It goes back to momentum, however, as it’s taken years to build up these win streaks. Rather than looking forward, the defeated man will likely have to defend his position against an unranked foe next.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 23 fight card this weekend right here, starting with the ESPN / ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ABC / ESPN+ at 3 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 23: “Vettori vs. Holland” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.
At UFC Vegas 23, Sodiq Yusuff and Arnold Allen will throw down in the co-main event. Which man will earn the victory?